Paul L. Caron

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 745

IRS Logo 2New York Times, I.R.S. Seeks to Define Political Activity for Nonprofits:

The Internal Revenue Service could issue as early as next month new draft regulations governing political activity by tax-exempt organizations, according to a notice issued on Thursday. But it remains unlikely that the new rules would be in place before the 2016 election.

The effort comes as nonprofit organizations prepare to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on presidential and congressional races, much of it devoted to thinly disguised campaign ads that the organizations say are merely intended to raise awareness of policy issues.

Many wealthy donors, particularly on the conservative side, prefer giving to nonprofits rather than “super PACs,” because the former are not required to disclose the identities of donors. Roughly half of all the political advertising aired during last year’s midterm elections came from groups that keep their donors a secret.

The proposed rules would amount to a mulligan: The agency’s first effort, in 2013, drew widespread criticism from liberal and conservative groups. Some of the groups’ members said the draft encompassed too much activity, and some argued that the proposed limits would not go far enough.

Current regulations provide no clear test for what constitutes election activity or for how much of their revenue tax-exempt groups can spend to try to influence elections. ...

I.R.S. officials, still reeling from revelations that conservative tax-exempt groups were subjected to paperwork delays and overzealous investigation during the 2012 election cycle, are wary of appearing to try to shape the course of the coming campaign.

This year, John Koskinen, the I.R.S. commissioner, said that the agency’s timetable was uncertain and that “my only focus on 2016 is to make sure that whatever we do, it doesn’t look like we’re trying to influence the 2016 election.”

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


PN, I misspoke. I doubt there were orders from the top. You don't need to give orders when the subordinates agree with the leaders on objectives and agree that that ends justify the means.

For an example of how this works, read the book "Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA".

Posted by: AMT buff | May 26, 2015 1:27:18 PM

Mr. ATM Buff: If you have evidence that a Democratic administration ordered the IRS to ignore the law, then you owe it to your country to reveal it. Otherwise, your only honorable course is to hold your peace.

Posted by: Publius Novus | May 25, 2015 7:41:00 PM

The IRS was oblivious to political activity by tax-exempt groups when they were almost all progressive, like MoveOn.Org. When right-wing groups arose, suddenly it was an emergency.

There are only two options that could be seen as non-political: Return to the hands-off approach used when progressive organizations dominated, or ask Congress to repeal Section 501 and make all these organizations fully taxable. Given the IRS' willingness to ignore the law when a Democratic administration orders it, there is another option: to deny all tax exemptions even though the law allows them.

Posted by: AMT buff | May 24, 2015 12:19:09 PM

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to stay on top of the IRS. They should forever have many watch dogs sniffing over their shoulders daily.

Posted by: nbpundit | May 24, 2015 12:14:14 PM